Mac Antivirus, Firewalls, VPNs and Security Software 2019


Well time for an update on keeping yourself safe from viruses on a Mac and all the bad folks out there. While the defaults are pretty good, you can always do better, here are the recommendations in a nutshell:

  1. Automatic Operating system. This is probably the most important one, but while there the risks of bugs with the latest updates, the benefit of having the lattest security patches far outweigh the other issues, so make sure you have the latest (currently MacOS Mojave) and stay up to date, it is a pain, but I alway take my updates first, I don't defer them, it takes a little while, but don't get in the habit of just deferring.
  2. Application Updates. The first thing to do is to make sure you turn on updates in the Mac App Store and for anything not in that store, try to use Homebrew to install applications and run brew update && brew upgrade & brew cask upgrade regularly. I turn my Mac off so rarely, I'm tempted to just add these to the .profile so it always runs.
  3. Firewall and Disk Encryption. These are included in every copy of MacOS and you should really turn them on. The firewall prevents apps from coming in over the network and Disk Encryption takes a while, but if anyone gets their hands on your machine you are safe.
  4. 1Password. I use this one, but having a different password for each site is critical.

Pass these basics, here is what else you can (and should do):

  1. Antivirus. Yes, you still need these. Looking at various reviews (PC Magazine and MacWorld UK), they like Bitdefender and Kaspersky but they both cost money but are five stars. Norton is a good choice at 4 stars particularly since it is free if you are a Comcast customer (but I can't figure out how to install it from a script. And if you are none of these, then Sophos works pretty well is free at 3.5 stars. The main issue with all of these is that it is hard to do an automated installation. Mac App Store has the free version of Bitdefender which doesn't do incoming scanning. In Homebrew, only Avira, AVG and F-secure, which aren't super great are supported Some other choices I've not tried are Intego.
  2. Internet firewall. While the basic one in the Mac is good, most of these other products have outbound and inbound firewalls, otherwise, you can buy Little Snitch to prevent applications from wandering and leaking your data.

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